Part of USS Higgs: Radio Silence

Radio Silence – 5

U.S.S. Higgs NCC-79830
February 2401
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Captain’s Log, Stardate 78099.21. The Higgs has arrived in orbit of Coltar Four where the refugees from Falor Three will be rehomed, thanks to the intervention of Fleet Captain Forrester. With the colonists settled we are preparing to continue on to Starbase Bravo where Mister Donaldson and the others involved in the attack on the science team will be handed over to Federation authorities.

With an early morning gym session under her belt, Captain Ana Matheson was ready to begin her day. She had always been a morning person, much to Callum’s annoyance, and loved nothing more than to spend the first hour of her day in the gym. That was why she found herself walking past the transporter room shortly after five am when her Executive Officer emerged in civilian clothes. His shirt was so rumpled she guessed that it had spent more time on the floor than it had on him.

With a knowing smirk, she greeted him brightly. “Good morning, Commander.”

“Morning,” Mitchell mumbled in return without meeting her gaze. He set off towards the nearest turbolift.

Ana’s smile widened as she set off after him, catching up easily. “I know I said the crew should enjoy some shore leave on Coltar, but I didn’t think I needed to place a curfew on my First Officer.”

“I lost track of the time,” Mitchell’s voice was huskier than usual, his normal baritone had a slightly lower pitch and was gravely.

Shooting him a sideways glance, Ana could see the blush creeping up his neck. “Oh, I’ll bet you did.” When Mitchell looked over at her, Ana gave him an exaggerated wink.

“You’re enjoying this way too much,” Mitchell grumbled.

That much was true. “Are you saying you wouldn’t give me a hard time if you caught me doing the walk of shame?”

“I would never give my Captain a hard time if I found her in the same situation,” Mitchell shot back as he approached the turbolift, reaching out for the call button.

His words were right but they didn’t sound particularly sincere. Besides, Ana knew better, “that’s not what Fleet Captain Forrester told me,” she shot back. “He said that you gave him shit anytime you caught him doing the walk of shame when he started dating Commander Bentley.”

“That’s different,” Mitchell told her as the tell-tale sound of a turbolift arriving could be heard. “We’ve been best friends for more than twenty years.”

They stepped inside the turbolift. “Deck one,” Matheson ordered before turning back to her XO. “Speaking of Forrester,” having busted his chops enough, she pivoted to a question that had been bugging her, “how did he get Governor Wells to accept the refugees?”

“He gave her something she’s wanted for months,” Mitchell smiled for the first time since arriving back onboard and finally met Ana’s gaze.

Ana cocked an eyebrow. “I’m almost afraid to ask.”

“Tom finally agreed to be the star of Coltar’s Frontier Day celebrations in April,” Mitchell told her.

Of all the possibilities that were running through Ana’s mind, that hadn’t even occurred to her. “That’s it?” It seemed like such a small price to pay in exchange for Wells accepting one hundred more refugees. The turbolift came to a halt and Ana followed Mitchell out.

“I think you underestimate how much Thomas Forrester hates being the centre of attention, especially at events like that,” Mitchell told her. She would have to take his word for it; Mitchell knew Forrester a hell of a lot better than she did. “But he’s done exactly what he did last year.”

They came to a stop in front of the XO’s quarters. “Which is?”

“Turned his starting role into an ensemble,” Mitchell told her with a tired smile. “Last year, when Wells wanted to give Tom the Freedom of Coltar, he convinced her to award it to the crew of the Challenger. This year, he’s convinced her to make their Frontier Day less about him and more about the Squadron.”

It took a moment for his words to sink in, but when they did, her shoulders sagged. “You’re kidding.”

“I wish I were,” he replied with a lopsided smile and a raise of his eyebrows. “Tom’s roped us all into taking part.”

Ana couldn’t stop a sigh from escaping. “Great,” she groaned. “Though on the bright side, you’ll be able to see your friend again.” She wiggled her suggestively.

“And you and Callum will be able to spend some quality time together.”

That thought cheered her up. “I hadn’t thought about that,” she told him.

“Anything I should know before I go grab a shower and some breakfast?” Mitchell asked.

Ana shook her head. “Nothing right now. Go freshen up, and maybe grab an hour’s sleep while you’re at it. By the looks of it, I don’t think you got much sleep.”

“Sleeping was the last thing on my mind,” Mitchell grinned.

Ana rolled her eyes as Mitchell disappeared into his quarters, leaving her to walk the corridors of deck one to her own quarters, on the other side of the ship. As much as she’d been amused by his walk of shame, the encounter had only served to highlight her own loneliness. 

She missed Callum since he transfer to the Challenger. It was still so new that they hadn’t really had a chance to get away from work and spend a few days together. Sure they would see each other for Coltar’s Frontier Day celebrations, but they would still be working. She missed coming back to their quarters at the end of the day to find him slaving over the replicator, or lounging on the sofa reading the latest journal articles.

Ana quickly pushed such thoughts away. There wasn’t time for such thoughts, not right now.